An irreverent interpretation of paella? In Czech Republic? This southeastern Spanish delicacy was strange in appearance but flavourful to the palate. The restaurant, El Toro Negro, charges a premium–not for food but for its proximity to the stunning, 600-year-old Astronomical Clock. At 590 Kč (approximately US$34), this meal should have demonstrated perfection. The rice was mushy. Granted, the nearest ocean is far far away. Be prepared to pay view tax, tourist surcharge, and live music tax on mediocre-plus food. Service, on the other hand, was welcoming, inviting, accommodating and friendly.
We dined in the patio across from a large table of Spaniards and a small table of Brits. Neither the English grandparents nor the children paid much attention to the food. The little ones were running rampant while the grandmother was aiming her point-and-shoot. The kids didn’t care much for the sexcentennial of the Astronomical Clock. But they witnessed a “shiny” clock tower.
The pickled cucumber was just as much of a sentinel food in a restaurant as any gourmet piece of meat. Between Istanbul and St. Petersburg, and Frankfurt and Seoul, pickling pre-dates all of us alive. It was good. Served with a few different types of rye bread, the Bratwurst dish (390 Kč; US$22) was homely, satisfying and affectionate. And the horse radish is something I’m still trying to understand.
For the ‘Stranger in a Strange Land,’ somewhat familiar, I would recommend back-alley Czech food–unless you prefer to dine in front of the Astronomical Clock.